At just 13-years-old, Vumilia had supported herself through primary school, earning money collecting and selling firewood. But after completing primary school, she despaired in the knowledge that she could not progress to secondary school. Like many families, the cost of uniforms, books, shoes and school fees were beyond Vumilia’s parents’ means. And, to make matters worse, the nearest school was 10km away.
Her grandmother said that Vumilia felt helpless, refusing to eat and crying every day. “She would ask me ‘Why is there no one to support me?’ I could only say, ‘You see how our life is. We cannot afford your school fees.’” All Vumilia could do was wait.
Vumilia used to start her 10 km walk to school at 4.30 a.m. every day
Vumilia and her classmates complete forms identifying their school needs to CAMFED
After weeks of anxiety, and at her grandmother’s urging, Vumilia left home at 4:30 a.m. and began the long journey to secondary school. She had no uniform, no stationery, no pencils and no ability to pay her school fees. She had only the love of learning, and a hope that someone could help. When she arrived, she was crying and scared. Fortunately, the local secondary school is a CAMFED partner school. Upon learning of Vumilia’s struggles, the head of the school provided her with a uniform, shoes and supplies from CAMFED, allowing her to start school that very day. A week later, Vumilia was also invited to stay at the school’s makeshift dormitory space, where 140 other girls were also lodging to avoid long daily walks to school.
Upon learning that Vumilia would be supported through school, and would no longer have to endure the long daily walks, her grandmother was overjoyed. “We are very grateful,” she said. “She won’t live like this anymore.”
“School will change her life… She now has assurance to get a good job and be employed.”
Read more inspirational stories
Check out more inspirational stories of CAMFED-supported girls and CAMA members